A Co. Armagh school has sent a letter of congratulations to one of its past pupils after she was appointed to the role of deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive this weekend.
Emma Little-Pengelly, who is an MLA representing the Lagan Valley constituency, took up the post on Saturday morning after her party, the DUP, ended its two-year boycott of the devolved institutions.
Among the well-wishers extending their congratulations was Markethill High School, where she graduated in the Class of 1996.
In a statement released on Monday, the school said: “We release this statement in public acknowledgement of the individual success and achievement of a past pupil. A past pupil who many of you will know from the Class of 1996. A past pupil who on Saturday, February 3, 2024 was nominated and appointed as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
“On behalf of the Chairman, The Board of Governors, The Principal, Staff, and Pupils of Markethill High School, we would like to sincerely congratulate Mrs Emma Little Pengelly on her appointment to this role in public office.
“Mrs Little Pengelly very publicly acknowledged her love and pride for Northern Ireland, namely Markethill and we too share the same view. We are very proud of our School Family, past and present, and hope that Mrs Little Pengelly’s role inspires another generation across the land of what can be achieved with diligence, desire, and determination.”
Signed by Mr Berry (Principal), Mrs Hargan (Vice-Principal) and Mr Lockhart (Chairman), the letter added: “Deputy First Minister, we are very proud of you, and we wish you God’s Richest Blessings as you work tirelessly to fulfil this incredibly demanding role, and in keeping with our school strapline; may your Mind, Heart & Soul lead and influence all that you do.”
Mrs Little-Pengelly responded: “Thank you for your kind best wishes. I have always been deeply proud to be from Markethill and of being a past pupil of our wonderful Markethill High School. A school that encouraged and inspired, and I have no doubt continues to do so for all the pupils past and present!”
On her appointment to the new role, she said: “Thank you to the many, many hundreds of you that have sent messages of best wishes for my new role. It is an absolute honour to be asked to serve the people of Northern Ireland as deputy First Minister.
“When asked to serve, we can either step up or step back – I love Northern Ireland and have always sought to work tirelessly to make Northern Ireland work and create a stronger, and better place for all here.
“Of course I will always choose to step up – to work for achieving the very best Northern Ireland we can have, and to secure and strengthen our Union which is the best way forward for all here. Thank you for all your kindness and for the many who have said they will pray for me in this new role and for the future of our wee province. It is so very much appreciated.”